University traditions explained


Brian Bauer

A bartender serves drinks to people celebrating in KAM’s on Unofficial on March 2. Assistant features editor Marissa explains official and unofficial University traditions students can choose to take part in.

By Marissa Plescia, Assistant Features Editor

Going anywhere unfamiliar is always a challenge. And each university will always have its quirks and traditions. Here is a guide to some of the most popular (and random) traditions we have at the University.

Quad Day

There are more than 1,600 registered student organizations at the University and there is one day before classes start where they all gather on the Main Quad, hence the name Quad Day. Each of these organizations will have a booth set up with information about the club. It can be a little overwhelming, but it’s a great way to get involved on campus and meet other people. With so many organizations on campus, you’re bound to find one that caters to your interests.


While Homecoming is not just a UI tradition, it’s still a very important one. It happens every year in the fall and it is supposed to be a weekend of celebration for all of our alumni. It started over 100 years ago and alumni from all over come back to the school for some reminiscing about the good old days. There are tons of activities going on over the weekend, including the big football game.

Icing out

Probably one of the weirdest traditions we have at the University, icing out is when you get a drink at a bar, take out all of the ice and chug the drink. Why did this tradition start? No clue. And why is it important to take all the ice out in order chug it? Also a good question. It’s part of the reason for why our bars are always so messy. So if you do choose to partake in this tradition, try to dump the ice and empty cups into the garbage cans, just as a common courtesy to bar employees. Also, remember to be safe.


Unofficial is basically St. Patrick’s Day, but on another date. Since real St. Patrick’s Day usually falls on the week of spring break, it has become a tradition at the University to celebrate it on Unofficial Day instead. It started back in 1995 as a bar promotion, where bars were selling special drinks like green beers. However, Unofficial really took off and became a very popular tradition on campus, often bringing in people from other schools. But the day has become much more regulated. In 2010, the bar entrance age changed to 21 during Unofficial weekend instead of the usual 19, and cops are frequently raiding bars and parties. That being said, it’s very important to be careful on this holiday. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly.

Alma Mater

The Alma Mater is one of the most popular statues on campus. Located on the corner of Green and Wright Streets, the statue has been around since 1929. The sculpture was created by alumnus Lorado Taft, who said the sculpture symbolizes “a benign and majestic woman in scholastic robes, who rises from her throne and advances a step with outstretched arms, a gesture of generously greeting her children.” Behind her is a woman who represents “learning” and a man who represents “labor.”

The Morrow Plots

The Morrow Plots is a cornfield located right in the center of campus. It’s the oldest experimental cornfield in the entire Western Hemisphere. Yes, very Illinois sounding. But an important thing to remember: Do not step into the Morrow Plots. It is rumored to be instant expulsion if you do. 

Marissa is a junior in Media.

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